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Over the next month or so, we're going to be reviewing some of the top draft prospects at each position to assess some potential candidates that the Jets will show interest in. We continue today with a look at the 2019 offensive tackle class...
Jets Needs: Offensive Tackles
While the prevailing wisdom is that the Jets desperately need to upgrade on the offensive line, they don't have an urgent need to bring aboard a starter for 2019.
While Brandon Shell suffered a knee injury at the end of the season, reports indicate that he should be healthy in time for training camp, and it's obvious the team views him as a long-term solution at right tackle. On the left, Kelvin Beachum has one year left on his contract, although the team should be thinking ahead to who might be his heir apparent in 2020 and beyond.
The Jets should, therefore, be looking for someone to bolster their depth and be a potential future starter, whether that be via free agency or in the draft. Their current depth is comprised of inexperienced youngsters: Dieugot Joseph is on a futures deal and Eric Smith is an exclusive rights free agent. It's possible Brent Qvale could be re-signed to compete for a role, but it seems unlikely that Ben Ijalana will be.
2019 Draft: Offensive Tackles
For most of the offseason, Alabama's Jonah Williams has been regarded as the top tackle prospect in this year's draft. However, Florida's Jawaan Taylor has been gaining more and more attention. Williams is smart and a good technician, but some question whether he's athletic enough to be able to play left tackle at the NFL level. Taylor, on the other hand, has size and athleticism, but perhaps isn't as polished as Williams overall. His 12 penalties in 2018 is also a cause for concern.
With the Jets picking third, Williams or Taylor would probably be a reach at that point. However, if they move back a few spots by trading with a team that wants a quarterback at three, perhaps the Jets will select their top tackle with their first pick.
Cody Ford from Oklahoma and Dalton Risner from Kansas State both performed well at tackle last year, but many scouts believe they'll fare better on the interior at the next level. Ford, at around 340 pounds, is perhaps more of a road grader type, while Risner is thought to lack the requisite length. The combine measurements for these two players could alter perceptions on them, though.
Greg Little from Ole Miss and Washington State's Andre Dillard are two developmental prospects with an outside shot at sneaking into the first round as things stand. Dillard is one of the better pass blockers in this draft, but raw as a run blocker. Little was effective in college, but displayed inconsistent technique. It seems unlikely either of these will fall to the third round where the Jets have two picks.
Some players that could be available with one of those picks, or perhaps later includes Yodny Cajuste from West Virginia, Wisconsin's David Edwards and Kaleb McGary from Washington. Cajuste is a little rough around the edges, but seems to have the length and athletic potential to be a good pass blocker. Edwards is an excellent run blocker, albeit perhaps somewhat limited in pass protection. McGary is also viewed as more of a run blocker, although a review of his film shows that he's been well-coached and does a good job of handling stunts.
Some small school prospects that will be looking to raise their profile includes Tytus Howard from Alabama State, Max Scharping from Northern Illinois and Oli Udoh from Elon. Howard impressively didn't give up any pressure in two games against division one opposition in 2018. Scharping has size and technique, which helped him post some good pass protection numbers this past season. As for Udoh, he played well at the East West Shrine Game, earning himself an invite to Senior Bowl week, where he also impressed.
Another tackle that boosted his stock during Senior Bowl week was USC's Chuma Edogu, who excelled in pass protection and showed the athleticism to get out in front of plays and block in space.
If the Jets draft an offensive tackle - even in the early rounds - there's no urgency to force that player into the line-up with Beachum and Shell perfectly capable of holding down the fort next year. That should allow the Jets to prepare whoever they draft adequately to fill in when required, and hopefully take on a full-time role next year.
In an ideal world, they'll be looking for someone who is capable of playing left tackle, which potentially rules out some of those players named above.